Ottawa introduces category-based selection for Express Entry immigration system to target labour shortages

The Canada Customs building between St. Stephen, N.B., and Calais, Maine. Photo: HR Law Canada/Canva

In an effort to address the urgent need to fill numerous job vacancies across the country, the Government of Canada has recognized the role of immigration in solving this challenge.

With the aim of fostering economic growth, empowering businesses, and strengthening French communities, the Canadian government is developing an immigration system that acts as a catalyst for progress. These measures will ensure long-term economic and social prosperity for Canadians.

Today, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the introduction of category-based selection for Canada’s flagship economic immigration management system, Express Entry.

This groundbreaking initiative will allow Canada to issue invitations to apply for prospective permanent residents with specific skills, training, or language proficiency. Detailed information regarding the timing of invitations for individual categories and the application process will be revealed in the following weeks.

Under category-based selection, this year’s invitations will prioritize candidates with a strong proficiency in the French language or work experience in key sectors, including healthcare, science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) professions, trades such as carpentry, plumbing, and contracting, transportation, and agriculture and agri-food.

This approach will enable the country to invite skilled workers in these fields and fulfill its commitment to welcoming in-demand professionals into communities nationwide. Furthermore, the government’s focus on Francophone immigration ensures that French-speaking communities can thrive and preserve their language of choice while residing in Canada.

Category-based selection is designed to enhance the responsiveness of Express Entry to Canada’s evolving economic and labor market needs. It builds upon the successful high human capital approach that has been a hallmark of Canada’s economic immigration system. By prioritizing skilled workers with the potential to integrate and contribute to Canada’s future, these measures align with the country’s objectives.

In the words of the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, “Everywhere I go, I’ve heard loud and clear from employers across the country who are experiencing chronic labor shortages. These changes to the Express Entry system will ensure that they have the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed. We can also grow our economy and help businesses with labor shortages while also increasing the number of French-proficient candidates to help ensure the vitality of French-speaking communities. Put simply, Canada’s immigration system has never been more responsive to the country’s social or economic needs.”

Quick facts

  • Express Entry is Canada’s premier application management system for individuals seeking permanent immigration through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program.
  • In June 2022, amendments were made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, enabling the selection of immigrants based on key attributes that align with economic priorities, such as specific work experience or proficiency in French.
  • The use of these new authorities necessitates public consultations with provinces, territories, industry representatives, unions, employers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners. The Minister must also report to Parliament annually, outlining the selected categories from the previous year, the selection process, and the rationale behind the choices.
  • The determination of eligible categories was based on extensive consultations with provincial and territorial partners, stakeholders, and the public, in addition to an analysis of labor market needs. A comprehensive list of eligible jobs for the new categories is available on the official website.
  • The first invitations to apply under the category-based system are expected to be issued this summer.
  • Immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labor force growth and plays a crucial role in addressing labor shortages in key sectors.
  • According to Employment and Social Development Canada, the number of occupations facing shortages doubled between 2019 and 2021.
  • Under the Quebec-Canada Accord, Quebec establishes its own immigration levels. From 2018 to 2022, admissions under the Federal High-Skilled program accounted for between 34% and 40% of overall French-speaking admissions outside Quebec.

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